Granholm to sign texting bill on Oprah

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will sign legislation with a little more pomp and promotion than usual.

Granholm signs into law the state’s texting-while-driving ban Friday during a broadcast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Her appearance will be aired via satellite from Detroit’s Renaissance Center.

Granholm’s signing is one of many events at "No Phone Zone" rallies in Detroit, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., that are part of the broadcast.

Winfrey launched the campaign against distracted driving in January. She has sponsored a pledge on her website asking motorists to commit to not text or talk on phones while driving.

Texting will be a primary offense under Michigan’s law, meaning police can pull over motorists solely for using phones to send text messages.

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Text ban sent to Granholm for signature

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation to ban the use of cell phones to send text messages or e-mail while driving in Michigan should soon be on the way to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her signature.

The Michigan House passed the third and final bill in a texting ban package by a 82-22 vote Wednesday. The Senate already has passed the bill so it should be sent to Granholm this week.

The main bills in the package were passed by the Legislature earlier this month. Granholm is expected to sign the legislation. The ban would start July 1.

A first offense would cost $100 and repeat offenses would cost $200. No points would be added to a driver’s record. Texting would be a primary offense, meaning police could pull over motorists for texting alone.

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Text message ban passes state house, ready for governor’s signature

Whatever you do, don’t look down while driving:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Using a cell phone to send text messages or e-mail while driving is one step closer to becoming illegal in Michigan.

The state House on Tuesday passed legislation that calls for enforcing a ban starting July 1. The main bill passed the House by a 74-33 vote.

The legislation already has passed the Senate so it soon should be headed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her signature.

The legislation calls for texting to be a primary offense. That would allow police to pull over and cite motorists just for texting.

Fines would be $100 for a first offense and $200 for each offense after that.

Because it was made a primary offense, I imagine this will help balance the budget of many municipalities.

Texting-while-driving ban passes Mich Senate

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state Senate on Thursday passed a new, tougher version of legislation that would make it illegal to send text messages from cell phones while driving in Michigan.

The main bill in the package passed the Republican-led chamber by a 28-10 vote, with only Republicans in opposition. It now advances to the Democrat-led House, which isn’t expected to take up the new measure until returning from a scheduled two-week break that ends in mid-April.

The new Senate version would make texting while driving a primary offense starting July 1, meaning police could pull over and cite motorists just for texting. Fines would be $100 for a first offense and $200 for each offense after that.

Previous versions of the bill had made texting a secondary offense. That meant police would need some other reason to stop a vehicle.

Police have told lawmakers that making the violation a secondary offense would hinder their ability to cite motorists in time to prevent accidents. But some lawmakers doubt a tougher policy making texting a primary offense will pass the Legislature.

The texting ban has picked up momentum in Michigan recently because of publicity surrounding accidents caused by distracted driving. Police say a teenage driver killed in a January traffic accident in Ottawa County was exchanging text messages with his girlfriend, got distracted and crashed.

"People are becoming more aware about this issue," said Rep. Lee Gonzales, a Democrat from Flint and a supporter of a texting ban. "There’s a lot of attention placed on it."

The federal government has sought to crack down on distracted driving, urging states to adopt stringent laws against sending text messages from behind the wheel. More than half the states already have adopted measures that ban at least some drivers from texting. Several more are in the process of passing new laws addressing it.

Texting while driving is classified as a primary offense in at least 15 states.

According to the U.S. Transportation Department’s distraction.gov Web site, using a cell phone has the same affect on a driver’s reaction time as a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent.

Obviously, texting while driving is a problem and needs to be curbed. But I think making it a primary violation instead of a secondary violation is bad policy for two reasons:

  • 1) Unless a person is dumb enough to hold his phone high enough so that the police can see that he is texting, police are going to be pulling over people for the act of peeking down, which could be for any number of reasons. Let’s face it, when you get a ticket, the real burden of proof won’t be on the officer to prove you were texting, but rather on you to prove you weren’t.  At least with speeding tickets, you had to actually, you know, speed. It will essentially become another way for municipalities to raise money, and without any real proof of a violation.
  • 2) If police can pull people over for peeking down, I can see TWD becoming the new “broken taillight” for pretextual traffic stops, sometimes referred to as “driving while black.” 

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments.